Whitmer requires implicit bias training for health care providers in Michigan

Additional training in racial issues will be required to renew professional licenses
Health care workers in Michigan will be required to receive training in implicit bias to renew...
Health care workers in Michigan will be required to receive training in implicit bias to renew their professional licenses.(Aspirus, Inc.)
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 12:16 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - All health care providers in Michigan will be required to receive implicit bias training to reduce racial disparities in the state’s health care system.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order Thursday directing the Michigan Department of Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to develop specific rules for the training, knowledge and skills necessary to reduce racial biases in the health care system.

The order came after a recommendation from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

“There’s no doubt that our front line health care workers like doctors and nurses have been the real heroes of this crisis, putting their lives on the line for us every day,” Whitmer said.

She said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted several racial biases and disparities in Michigan’s health care system. The illness has affected Black people at much higher rates than other races, Whitmer said.

While Black people comprise 14% of Michigan’s population, Whitmer pointed out that 40% of the state’s confirmed coronavirus deaths involve Black residents. COVID-19 is four times more prevalent in Michigan’s Black population than it is among Whites.

“The existing health disparities highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic have made it clear that there is more work to do to ensure people of color have the same access to the same quality of health care as everyone else,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist II, chairman of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. “By providing awareness to health care workers on how to recognize and mitigate implicit bias, we can help them carry out their mission of providing the best health care to every patient they serve.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who is Michigan’s chief medical executive, said the state’s health care providers have risked their lives to save others during the coronavirus pandemic. But personal biases they may not even be aware of can affect health outcomes.

“Every health care professional should be trained in implicit bias so that we can make sure everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity, has access to the highest quality care,” she said.

State regulators are required to consult stakeholders in the health care profession, government and community by Nov. 1 to determine goals and concerns. They then will work with professional licensing boards and task forces to write the new rules, which likely will take a full year.

Health care professionals will need to complete the training to renew their licenses to practice medicine.

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